Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Game of the Week: Championship Edition

Round 2, and a clean sweep: the players with white won every game. This week's games, for some reason, were short, the longest of them lasting only 36 moves. One was a TKO, two were alley brawls . . . but this one had a whiff of aikido about it. And I'm not just saying that because I won.

Route 20 Chess Club Championship (2)
Freeport, Ill., Dec. 14, 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5?!
Ahh, the Albin Counter-Gambit. It always gives me a warm feeling, because despite having amassed more than enough grandpatzer norms to qualify for the title, I've never lost against this one.

3.dxe5 dxc4?
3...d4 is book, and necessary to avoid a premature dislocation of black's king.

4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Nc3 Bb4

I thought about this one for a while. 6.Nf3 is a straightforward developing move, but it doesn't accomplish anything else, and if there's one thing I learned playing go that has an application to chess, it's to look for moves that serve more than one purpose. 6.Bg5+ is easily dodged, so I skipped past it in favor of 6.Bd2, which not only breaks the pin on my queen's knight but also gives me a chance to set up 7.Rd1, with the potential follow-up 8.Bg5+! Ke8 9.Rd8#. And even if Demetrio doesn't give me that gift, breaking the pin allows me to play e4 without having to fear ...Nf6.

But it turns out, 6.Bg5+ is like the guy next door who always seemed real quiet and never bothered anyone: 6...Be7 7.Rd1+ Ke8 8.Bxe7 Nxe7, and black's development is found dismembered in the backyard. What to do next? How about picking off that loose pawn (9.e4 a6 10.Bxc4), then trading down (10...Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6) and finally taking aim at black's newly weakened pawn (12.f4)?

6...Be6 7.e4 Kc8 8.f4 keeps me from running amok.

I considered castling queenside but decided I didn't like the placement of my king on c1. Fritz, however, strongly prefers 7.0-0-0 -- no doubt because of the importance of getting my king off the b4–e1 diagonal.

7...Bd7 8.Nf3 Nge7 9.e4 Na5?
Demetrio wants to keep me from picking up his c-pawn, but his knight will remain literally marginalized for the rest of the game. An alternative that maintains equality is 9...Ng6 10.a3 Bc5 11.Na4.

Thinking that if I can entice Demetrio to trade knights, I can undouble my center pawns. But I'm better off just kicking the bishop: 10.a3 Bc5 11.e6 fxe6 12.Ne5. Black is a pawn up, but white has all kinds of tactical shots, such as 12...Nec6 13.Bg5+ Kc8 14.Nxd7.

Bad call -- the b4-bishop is lost. Better is 10...Bxd2+ 11.Nxd2 Ng6 12.Bxc4 Nxe5. But even after that, my formation is way prettier, and I can slip out of the almost-but-not-quite-deadly counterattack with 13.Be2.

With the center wide open, 11.Nxb4 is the better capture.

11...Nxb4 12.Nxb4 c6 13.Ng5
A good move, but 13.e6!, which wins a piece, is better: 13...fxe6 14.Ne5 Ke8 15.Rxd7.

13...Ke7 14.Be2
14.Nxf7 tempts black into a trap: 14...Kxf7?? 15.Rxd7+ Kg6 f4, and black's king is wandering alone through a dangerous no-man's land. Black must therefore call white's bluff with 14...Bg4 15.Nxh8 Bxd1 Kxd1 Rxh8, but even after that, white has an active piece and can easily bring in two more, while black's are all passive.

14...Rhd8 15.0-0
Perfectly adequate -- but 15.Nxh7 is a freebie. However, I'm thinking that I need to activate my last piece and get my king into his bunker -- I've put it off long enough.

15...h6 16.e6
16.Nf3 is more solid, but I'm trying to put Demetrio on tilt. Plus, if he plays 16...fxe6, I no longer have doubled pawns, while he's got an isolated one; while if he plays 16...Bxe6, I reply 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Nc2, and I've still improved the pawn situation.

16...fxe6 17.Nh3
Yeah, yeah, a knight on the rim. But I'm seeing some potential on the f-file, and I don't want to plug it up.


This is my lucky break, although it looks like all I've done is leave my knight in the line of fire of Demetrio's bishop. But Demetrio had a tactic in 17...c5!? 18.Nc2 Ba4.

18.f4 exf4?!
18...Bxh3 19.gxh3 Rxd1 20.Bxd1 Rd8 21.fxe5 Rd2 hurts me a little. Not much, but a little. 18...exf4, on the other hand, is a thank-you move.

No more doubled pawn problem, and my knight is off the rim and out of danger. I'm feeling good.


At this point, Demetrio spots some kind of tactic that he believes will take me apart -- perhaps some form of the one he had two moves ago. But the death blow arrives so fast, he doesn't even see it coming. (If he had, he'd have parried it with 19...Be8.)

20.Ng6+ Ke6 21.Bg4# 1-0
Demetrio stares at the board for a moment, unable to believe it's over already. Then, a good sport, he smiles and shakes on it.

Round 2 games in Chessbase format: Route 20 CC Ch 2.cbv


Anonymous said...

The link to the round 2 games is fixed.

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